The cover that caused a scandal
Number 16 of German magazine ‘Die Aktuelle’ – on newsstands since last April 15 – features the smiling face of Michael Schumacher on the cover, accompanied by an eloquent headline: “The first interview!”. This alone would be enough to create an understandable perception of estrangement for the reader, who also finds the words “sensational worldwide!” clearly visible. Further down it continues with a sibylline “it seems deceptively real“, accompanied by the inevitable “what is behind it” and by “we went looking for clues”.
Continuing on the internal pages, we are then faced with an artificial interview carried out through Artificial Intelligence with the seven-time German world champion. What happened created a wave of indignation worldwide, with the outrage that started in Germany and soon involved fans on social networks and fellow Spanish and English journalists who denounced the unscrupulous and unethical behavior of the German magazine.
Fake interview questions
No editor’s signature, but two pages of questions to fake Michael Schumacher, generated by software that promises the experience of a simulated conversation with famous people. As is the case in all these applications that exploit artificial intelligence, the answers are provided using information from previous statements by the personality in question. “Some of the most burning questions that everyone has been asking themselves for some time”: this is how the fake interview of Die Aktuelle begins, as the German magazine has not missed an opportunity to sink with both hands into morbidity. In fact, the questions asked were: “How are you since the accident you suffered in 2013?” or “How are you today?”. And the reply of the ‘artificial’ Michael Schumacher highlighted as the title of the internal pages is: “My life has changed completely”.
A final line is not enough: “Everything the character says is invented”, to appease the embarrassment of the readers.
What is Die Aktuelle
The description and target audience of the magazine can be read from the weekly’s website: “The magazine for women who want to be informed on current trends in society and on the lives of stars”. The newspaper has been on newsstands since 1979 and is published by FUNKE Women Group GmbH and. It has a circulation of 228,000 copies, according to last year’s data. In recent times, the German magazine has often ended up in a storm for having crossed the limits of decency and for the its articles which are often reporting fake news, arriving at the publication of false photos.
Show your support for Scuderia Ferrari with official merchandise collection! Click here to enter the F1 online Store and shop securely! And also get your F1 tickets for every race with VIP hospitality and unparalleled insider access. Click here for the best offers to support Charles and Carlos from the track!
Remaining on the topic of Michael Schumacher, the more attentive will remember that already in 2014 Die Aktuelle ended up in the eye of the storm for a cover with a photo of the seven-time world champion with the title: “He’s sitting in the sun!”, complete with an image with sunglasses before the tragic skiing accident.
The privacy of the Schumacher family
As is known, since that accursed December 29, 2013 in which Michael Schumacher fell on the snow of Meribel, the family and longtime friends of the Formula 1 champion have huddled close to him, creating an impassable curtain to protect his privacy. The conditions of the former Ferrari driver could be guessed from the words and comments in the Netflix documentary dedicated to him in 2021, with his wife Corinna who explained:
“I miss Michael every day but I’m not the only one who misses him: his children, his family, his father, everyone around him. Michael is missed by the whole world. But Michael is there, he is different but he is there. And this gives us strength. We are together, we live together at home. He undergoes treatment and we do everything possible to make him better, so that he feels the connection with his family. We try to carry on as Michael loved and as he still loves. Life goes on, Michael has always protected us, and now we protect Michael“; and his son Mick who added: “Since the accident, those moments that people spend in the family have no longer been there, or at least there have been in a different way. It’s unfair. Now with dad we would understand each other with the language of motorsport, we would have so much to talk about. I’d give up everything to be able to do that.”